Kazakhstan – what are the perspectives for its pig industry? The views depend on whom you talk to. Representatives of the country’s pig industry tell a gloomy story, but the Kazakh agricultural ministry paints an optimistic picture.
Kazakhstan's pig population in January 2016 amounted to 884,700 which was 2.7% less than in the same month of 2015, according to the report from the country's Statistical Agency.
Kazakh pig industry may cease to exist
Over the past decade number of pigs fell by 37.1% and many experts have expressed concerns that the industry may completely cease to exist in the near future.
Victor Lim, chairman of the Union of Pig Breeding Companies of Kazakhstan, told Pig Progress, "In 1990, the pig population in Kazakhstan amounted to 3 million head, while last year they totalled less than 990,000 head. We believe, that increasing the country's pork production should be a very important task [for authorities]. In addition to meeting the domestic demand for this kind of meat, we could also consider exporting to neighbouring countries China and Russia."
Pig farming a sensitive issue in Kazakhstan
For religious reasons, the pig industry is a sensitive issue in Kazakhstan. The country is experiencing a spread of halal standards; reduced demand for pork is mainly due to a decrease in the number of Russian-Christian population. Official statistics indicate that the number of Russian-Christians has fallen from 6.2 to 3.6 million since the collapse of Soviet Union. Ethnic Kazakhs do not consume pork.
A member of the country's Pig Breeding Union who chose to remain anonymous, commented, "Pig farming is included in the government programmes for the development of animal husbandry, but the programme's current environment measures are not implemented for the pig industry. For investors in the country it is very difficult to get loans, lease land or to apply for state subsidies and grants for pig breeding projects. In the country, with 70% of Muslims it is quite difficult to be engaged in pork production."
Production, consumption and export growth
At the same time, representatives of the Kazakhstan's Agricultural Ministry completely reject any suggestion that domestic pig farming sector is currently on the verge of extinction. Moreover, forecasts of the ministry include not only an increase in total production, but also growth in consumption and an increase in exports by 12 times by 2020.
Suleiman Dzhambliev, spokesperson for the Kazakh ministry of agriculture, said, "Measures of state support for the pig breeding industry have increased more than 15-fold over for the last 5 years. Currently, the amount of state subsidies per 1 kg of pork is 98 Kazakhstani tenge (KZT; US$ 0.27), which corresponds to the level of neighbouring Russia." He added that government sees its main task is to increase pig farming efficiency.
Average daily gain of 350 g
Dzhambliev continued, "Pig population is mainly concentrated in personal farmsteads of the population so 66.5% of all pigs is located in small farms, where the technology for breeding and growing of animals is quite primitive. As a result, despite a number of modern farms in the country, we have average daily gain of fattening pigs of only 350 g, compared to 700-800 in European countries."